TAMPA - A factory owned by a Tampa company which makes 40mm grenades for the U.S. military is shutting its doors, laying off over a hundred workers, and moving out of Florida.
DSE Fuzing was the subject of a recent I-TEAM investigation concerning problems on its production line.
The Tampa based company says its fuze division, which has been the focus of a lot of attention by the Defense Department over concerns about quality control, is moving to a new state-of-the-art facility in South Carolina.
The Orlando plant, which makes fuzes for 40mm grenades manufactured by Tampa based DSE Incorporated, has been under intense scrutiny.
As the I-TEAM was first to report in February, DSE Fuzing's former manager of quality assurance has filed a federal whistleblower lawsuit claiming defective parts were slipping through the production line and into grenades .
On a recent trip to the Army's Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey, Brigadier General Jonathan Maddux told us what happened when the parts in question, called detents, were tested in the labs here on the base.
"We the government took that information Mr. King had and looked into that incident and found 158 out of 160 rounds that we tore apart and did some very minute examinations of. We found 158 out of 160 parts did not meet our specific drawings in our technical data package," Maddux says.
"Where are they today?” We asked. “Those lots have been quarantined. They have been given a code meaning no one can use them. They will be destroyed in the long term," Maddux told us.
The Army says it has invoked a contract warranty clause and is demanding DSE pay the government back an undetermined amount of money.
In addition the I-TEAM has discovered DSE Fuzing has repeatedly been cited by the Defense Department in recent years, as recently as February, over issues involving missing critical parts in grenades.
Once DSE Fuzing's Orlando plants closes, the Defense Contract Management Agency tells us DSE's new plant in South Carolina will have to be evaluated and validated before the military accept any parts produced there.
We asked the company whether the decision to close the Orlando plant has anything to do with these issues. A company spokesman would only say the move was long planned, and that "the imminent expiration of our leases in Orlando, the slow economy, and military defense budget reductions, all point to the difficult decision to restructure."
There is, however, a Congressional investigation underway by the House Oversight Committee into the issues raised by the whistle blower lawsuit and our investigation.
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